Monthly Archives: January 2018

Parrot Heads? Nope, But We Can Count.

This week Frank and I pretended we were ornithologists, which we are definitely not. We participated in the Echo Bonaire annual count of the Yellow-shouldered Amazon Parrot.

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Yellow-shouldered Amazon Parrot – photo from Echo website.

Due to heavy trapping of these birds and poaching of nests for the pet trade, as well as diminishing habitats, these parrots are classified as vulnerable on the endangered species list.

Called Loras here on Bonaire, this parrot has become extinct on Aruba and their status on Curacao is undocumented. So each January the Echo Bonaire team organizes volunteers and on one Saturday morning a count of Loras on Bonaire is undertaken.

Parrot roost

Our roost is the rocky hillside in the left third of this picture.

Thursday our neighbors, Barb and Chuck of Tusen Takk II, helped me scout out the spot Frank and I were assigned for the count. Pre-spotting was well advised as our observation perch was on a rocky outcrop and access was best found in daylight the first time.

Saturday morning we departed LIB just before 5 am and were dropped near our site by 5:35. With flashlight, deck chairs and note taking papers in hand, Frank and I ducked thistles and dodged cacti until we reached our rocky outcropping.  By 5:50 we were at our assigned point and waiting patiently for the Loras to awaken and take flight so we could count the those in our designated roost.  Simultaneously about 50 other volunteers waited in additional observation spots throughout Bonaire.

The inky darkness dissipated gradually as the sun awakened and cast a bit of light on the south facing hillside we were assigned.  By 7 am we had seen not a single parrot but we agreed that even without the Loras, this was a unique and pretty way to share the dawn.

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Our site in the soft light of dawn.

The notes we received about our site stated that last year only two parrots were seen at the roost and we thought this year was a bust. But a little after 7 am we began spotting Yellow-shouldered Amazon Parrots flitting up from the scrubby brush and alighting on the cacti.

The total count from our roost was 12; a significant increase from last year! We also had several groups of Loras land on the brush behind us and fly through the valley where our roost was located.  It was fun to watch them flutter from place to place.

Echo

Many of the volunteers for the parrot count.

Volunteers gathered around 8:45 that morning to turn in their official drawings and bird counts. The news was good for this years’ parrot count.  Last year a total of slightly over 700 Loras was made, but this year the number jumped to 1021 sightings.

Good news for the Yellow-shouldered Amazon of Bonaire! And fun spotting for the volunteers.

The Echo folks did a good job or organizing and communicating with the volunteers. The only hiccup was that the transportation they arranged for us fell apart.

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Chillin’ in the truck bed post bird count.

Luckily, Barb and Chuck came to our rescue.  Their truck seats were accounted for, but they let Frank and I throw our chairs in the back and they took us on a scenic trip back to the anchorage.

Tusen Takk II are awesome neighbors and we are lucky to be moored next to them! Thank you Barb and Chuck for telling us about this volunteer opportunity and making our participation possible!

As always, thank you for reading our blog. If you have and questions about our life aboard, feel free to ask in the comments below. Also, you can check out our FB page if you want to “hear” from us more often.

 

Bring on the Dogs! That’s What Everyone Remembers.

Hi guys, it’s me, Captain.  Mom is super lazy so she’s making me do the blog today. NOT!

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Please can I write? I have things to say!

Actually, I begged to write this one because I think mom’s stuff is kinda boring and we need to change it up. Plus when we stop and talk to people they often say, “Oh I remember Captain!” Mom laughs because she says everyone remembers me but not her.  Perhaps she needs to wiggle her tail more?!

So it’s been months and months since I’ve had a chance to tell you what is going on for me.  Since my last blog, we have been to five different countries: Turks and Caicos, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Aruba and Bonaire.

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Playtime and shade = happiness!

I really liked Turks and Caicos because we stayed mostly at South Side Marina and I was allowed to get off and on the boat anytime I wanted – well almost! And there was another dog that lived there and we played lots and lots.

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Walking at Puerto Bahia, Samana

The Dominican Republic was great because mom took me for a lot of long walks and we found a waterfall that I could play in during our walks.  That waterfall was super special because it didn’t have any salt in it and I could drink the water!  I wish whoever puts the salt in all the oceans would stop because I really want to drink that water!

One surprise was going back to Puerto Rico.  Puerto Rico is the place where we first moved onto LIB and it was kinda fun to be back in a familiar place. Dad was riding bikes and mom got to play some tennis. I had long walks and made some new people friends and really liked hanging out at the pool with Frank and MG.

But my people are strange. One afternoon we went to the pool and we were super chill and talking about some hikes we were going to do. Then Frank got on his computer and suddenly everything changed!

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Palmas del Mar before Maria. Taken from the top of the mast the night before we fled.

He and MG started taking about somebody named Maria and weather and category 4 or 5 or something and next thing I knew we are in full pack and go mode! Within 15 hours we had picked up and left Puerto Rico and were sailing to Bonaire.

Later I figured out there was another one of those hurricane things headed toward our marina, so we had to skedaddle.

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LIB moored in Bonaire.

So since September we have been hanging out in the ABC Islands. It’s really pretty here and sooo many people from the cruise ships stop to pet me and tell me how much they miss their dogs.  They should just bring them along! I sure am glad MG and Frank have brought me on our boat.

My boys have come to visit two times since I last wrote! Once was in the Turks and Caicos and then they came to Bonaire for Christmas. Wow wee it is so fun when they are here. Hunter sneaks me treats sometimes (don’t tell!) and Clayton’s ear rubs are so good that I groan with happiness. I just can’t help it!

Mom hasn’t been taking as many pictures of me lately, so I don’t have very many to show, but here are a few I like.

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Few shells makes for great runs! (Turks and Caicos)

Without a doubt, running on soft sand is my favorite thing to do! Especially since there haven’t been any goats to herd in a looooong time. After I run, I cool off in the ocean and make sure my fur is really wet, then I roll around in the sand!

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Feels as good as rolling in grass!

MG thinks I do this just to get messy, but really this is how I scratch all those places I can’t quite reach.  You should try it. I’m sure you would start sand scratching on a regular basis!

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UGH! The rinse cycle before getting in the dinghy.

The one thing I don’t like is that before we go back to the boat, Frank dunks me in the water and washes away as much of the sand as he can. Boy, I just don’t understand why he ruins a good sand scratch like that.

It’s been a long while since we have found creeks and stuff to explore in the dinghy. I really miss zipping along and seeing fish and turtles right next to the dinghy.

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Instead of Swamp People, maybe we could be Dinghy Dervishes? 

We look kinda crazy when we go on these dinghy explorations but we all laugh a lot… even when we get in water so shallow that my people have to get out and walk us to deeper water. (I just stay in the dinghy and make sure they go the right way!)

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I count two in and one getting out….

Over the last few months we have had lots of new friends come out on LIB with us.  One day we had 15 kids from Bonaire out for the afternoon.  Can you say busy?! Phew, that is a lot of kids to keep on the boat.  When we stopped for snacks and a swim, those kids were jumping from all over the boat and I had a hard time keeping count of them all. It was good my humans helped too!

After all the kids were back on board and we were underway again, I went down to mom and dad’s room and took a nap. Hoowee, that was a tiring day. But super fun!  And now almost every time we go to shore for a walk, I see one of the kids or somebody yells my name from a passing car to say hello.

I think I am a pretty good advocate for boat dogs!

Speaking of going to shore, that is the one little thing I’m not so keen about here in Bonaire.  There are a LOT of dogs here and pretty much all of them bark and snarl from behind their fences. It’s a little distracting when I’m on a “business trip.”

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I jump right in when it’s time to go to shore!

Here’s a picture of me and Frank swimming to shore for a walk.  Mom does this too, but she is the one who takes most of the pictures.

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Pretty adorbs, aren’t I?

MG and I participated in a Santa Hat Walk around Christmas.  We got to walk places we had never been and there were lots of other people walking who petted me.  I was the only dog that went on the walk.  Gosh, I’m sure glad my people like to take me with them!  Anyway, I won an award for being cute.  MG says if I were a human I would be really conceited because everyone tells me I’m cute or pretty…. Why does she think I hold my tail so high? Duh!

So that’s pretty much the news around here for now.  Except I know mom and dad are up to something right now because they keep mentioning this boat called an HH55. I took a peak on mom’s computer and I saw some pictures of it.  At first I couldn’t really tell it was a boat, but now it’s coming along.  From what I can tell, they want to use this boat to go exploring even farther away from the U.S.  As long as I get to go with them, I’m down for this whole new boat gig.  Here’s a picture I found on mom’s computer that shows the boat is actually beginning to look like a catamaran now.

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Deck and coachroof bonding completed.

I have two questions about this new boat. 1. Will I still be able to look into the cold drawers? 2. What are we going to name it?  If you have any ideas for a name, please post a comment below, ok?  I bet I would get a lot of extra treats if I manage to come up with a cool new boat name. (Dad kinda wants to keep a song title name, but mom wants something lighthearted relating to exploring or speed. How do you reconcile that?)

Oops, gotta run.  Yesterday I made a new friend, Dave, who likes to paddle board and he said he would take me with him.  Pretty sure I just spotted Dave coming my way!

I hope your day includes some excellent sniffs!

Tail wags and licks,

Captain.

 

 

 

 

BSSA ~ Sailing with the Expert Kids

Bonaire has an active youth sailing group and we invited them to join us on Let It Be for an afternoon of sailing.

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Fifteen kids and two adults from the Bonaire Sailing School Association boarded LIB around 2 pm.  After covering a few guidelines, we released the mooring lines and took off.

BSSA-9 LIB was in the hands of some very good sailors! It only took a few minutes to cover basic differences between the small boats the kids sail and the particulars of this catamaran, then the kids were completely ready to take the sheets, lines and throttles!

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I was truly impressed with how well these sailors worked together and shared responsibilities. As is always true with a group, some children were very interested in sailing and others preferred to romp around the boat.

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BSSA-5

BSSA-2Once away from the mooring ball, we raised the main, unfurled the jib and sailed south toward Pink Beach. The auto winch and chart plotter were big hits. But once our sailors learned how to engage and work the autopilot, it was much more interesting to helm manually.

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BSSA-10Any child who wanted the helm had a chance and the more experienced kids stayed right there to guide those who needed a little help.

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BSSA-8After about an hour of sailing, we dropped the sails and grabbed a mooring ball at Pink Beach on the southern side of Bonaire.  We broke out the snacks, lowered the ladder and unleashed the energy. We had already thought these kids were exuberant, but adding the snacks and allowing them to jump from nearly every surface of LIB caused the energy level to increase another watt or ten!

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BSSA-11After a refreshing swim and plenty of sustenance, it was time to pop the chute.  LIB’s spinnaker is slightly larger than the sails the kids are accustomed to and they loved letting her fly.

BSSA-6Our cat cruised down wind quickly and the kids monkeyed around on this smooth point of sail. Very soon it was time to drop the spin and raise the main and jib once again. Second time around for the main/jib and the kids were all over the job with little help.

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I loved watching the kids access the sails, turn to Frank or me and say, “I think that main needs to come in a bit.” Then proceed to make the necessary adjustment. It is easy to see that some of these kids really have caught the sailing bug and they like their sails to be well adjusted.

Several of our sailors have folks who are expert fishermen and that knowledge has been passed along.  We brought out the fishing poles and the kids worked the lines hard, but alas, we were not in prime fishing spots.  Catching a fish would have been icing on a sweet day, but I’m not sure we needed the additional activity anyway!

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Our awesome helmsmen and sheet handlers managed to sail around Klein Bonaire and, with only one tack, they sailed LIB on a perfect line to catch our mooring ball.

BSSAWe absolutely loved having a chance to share LIB with the BSSA and having the opportunity to get to know these young people. I was incredibly impressed with so much about these kids; they were polite, they were appreciative, they were avid about learning and passionate about sailing, they cared for and watch out for one another, the older ones gently reined in the younger ones if things became unsafe or too wild, they worked well as a team, they were engaging and just plain fun! I could go on and on!

LIB has never housed as much energy as she did for those few hours with the BSSA kids on board and we loved every minute of it.  (I would love to hear how other boaters have reached out to get to know the communities they visit. Please tell us in the comments.)

Thank you to the kids who participated and to Anneke and Thijs who took their afternoon to chaperone.

To the parents of this very fun group of sailors, we appreciate your trusting us with your precious children and allowing us to get to know them!

A special thank you to Anneke who took so many great pictures and videos while Frank and I were busy. We are so glad to have these photos!  Also, thank you to Charles of Tusen Takk II for the group photo.

~HH55~

The construction of our new catamaran is moving along nicely and we continue to spend a lot of time working with the staff at HH to refine and define our future boat. It has been super fun to receive updates and a few photos from the builder showing us the progress of our boat.

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She was just the bare hull when we visited in China.

Since our first visit in August, Frank has returned once to China and was able to be on board for the sea trial of an HH55 with the aft steering.  That sea trial further solidified our choice for an aft helm arrangement.

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Vacuum infusion of the bulkheads. (Exciting, I know)

While touring the factory, we were able to see vacuum infusion in process for another boat.  Per the HH brochure, “the hull, deck and structure are all 100% carbon fiber composite foam sandwich and use post cured epoxy resin for super light, super strong structures.”  It is fun to see this processing happening for our own cat.

5503 Most bulkheats installation complete

Those partitions may be confusing to you, but to us they look like our future home.

She doesn’t look like a boat yet, but there is definitely progress being made. We worked with HH and Morrelli and Melvin to arrange the salon and galley to meet our needs and it is fun to see the one dimensional lines and boxes on paper become a reality.

Since this boat is being built in China we obviously can’t just drop by to see how things are going, so we really appreciate the progress reports generated by HH.

Thanks so much for visiting our blog.  We love hearing from our readers. If you would like to see what we are up to more often, please visit our FB page.

 

Family Time – The Happiest Time of the Year!

What an awesome Christmas we had on LIB! Our sons arrived on December 23rd and as is par for the course, we were busy, busy,  busy!  But the great part is that we were not busy shopping and buying presents and worrying about who needed gifts.  Instead we were trying to pack in as much fun as possible while Hunter and Clayton were here.

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So glad to have our kids with us!

The one item I had on my to do list was to get a decent family picture.  The last family picture we took was a very last minute acquiescence and this year I wanted to make sure we took a decent photo. That doesn’t mean we dressed up and coordinated colors (much less shaved facial hair!) but at least we had a festive backdrop and Clayton took a good pic.

Christmas-6Hunter practicing his smile while Clayton sets up the camera.

After the “photo shoot” it was play time and we packed a lot into a few days. The majority of our focus was on kiting and we got some pretty good pics:

Christmas-5Clayton skimming along.

DSC01060Frank looking mighty relaxed.

Christmas-2Hunter spends a lot of kite time upside down. Christmas-8You went how high? A perspective on how high Hunter jumps.

Captain is not always happy that her herd is off of the boat and she spends a lot of time running from side to side barking for us to come back to the boat.

DSC02357 Should I put a Fitbit on Captain and see how many steps she gets?

Spinnaker-3LIB looks festive flying her new spinnaker.

We all enjoy sailing and the west side of Bonaire is perfect because the low land prevents the waves but not the wind. Every day we sailed to and from our mooring site to either the kiting spot or a scuba diving ball.

Hunter and Clayton earned their open water scuba certification three Christmases ago but we have not had many chances to dive with them.  The four of us dove this week and the marine life was great, but diving was definitely not their favorite activity.  I think they enjoyed cooling off but the activity itself was too staid for their tastes….. surprise!

Other activities included bike riding, swimming, snorkeling, exploring, SUPing and generally just enjoying our time together on the boat.  We are very fortunate that we truly enjoy being together; so the time flew by.

Christmas-9LIB showing off her North 3di sales.

We have tried to get a few pictures of LIB actually sailing so those interested in buying her can see just how pretty she looks sporting her North 3di sails. Since Clayton messes around with photography, he acted as the photographer and Hunter and I took turns driving the dinghy a couple of times.  Of course, we refused to allow the pictures to take precedence over playtime, so we didn’t use the best lighting of the the day. Still, Clayton did a good job with the pics and managed to get some photos of our boat zipping along.

Christmas-4Very cool to see this yacht actually sailing!

While out and about, we spotted this giant sailboat, M5.  It is unusual to see very large sailboats actually sailing, so we especially enjoyed watching this 250 foot long beauty going though her paces.  If you look closely, you can see the wing of an airplane on the aft deck! This sailboat was built in 2003 and refit in 2014. It is the largest single-masted yacht ever built. To give you a little perspective…. her beam is broader than the whole length of LIB!

Of course we were too busy “doing” for me to spend much time taking pictures, but we did take a little walk along the salt fields to see if we could get any interesting photos.

ChristmasClayton walking near the salt pond.

Once again the lighting was not conducive to taking great pictures and we couldn’t get really close to the pools, but I did snap this photo of Clayton as he strolled along looking for a better angle.

Bonaire has an outdoor movie theater and we decided it would be a fun change of activity for us. We drove the dinghy to a nearby marina, then walked about 12 minutes to the Empire Theater where the latest Star Wars movie was showing.  Our kids are too young to remember drive in theaters so this was a fun way to give them an idea of what that bygone entertainment was like.  Empire Theater is a fun experience but I can’t say the sound system is indoor theater quality. For the price of a ticket, you are given a plastic chair and a pair of 3D glasses.  We arranged our chairs in the gravel flooring, put on our glasses and thoroughly enjoyed watching the Resistance Fighters battle evil! Until, the rain came and we all had to dash beneath the very scant roof.

Even with the rain, we had was fun and enjoyed watching the movie in such a unique place.

Christmas-3Clayton and Hunter snagging the mooring ball.

Having all of us together, sharing activities, meals, laughter and Christmas was the best gift I could receive. I love having the chance to cook favorite meals and desserts for the kids and watching them relax and lounge about on LIB. And it is kind of nice to sit back and let my three guys take care of the helming and mooring while I have the satisfaction of watching them work as a team.

Last year Hunter was working out of the country and we were unable to be together for the Holidays.  Remembering that Hunter was away last year made this Christmas just a little bit sweeter.  I am thankful for the many, many blessings God has bestowed on us; and I thank Him daily for my family.

I hope all of you had a blessed Holiday and we on LIB pray that God blesses your 2018 with health, happiness and adventure!

Thank you so much for visiting our blog! If you would like to hear from us more often, please visit our FB page.

 

 

 

 

 

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